News for

Sep 27 - Oct 3: e-CommunitarianPractice of the WeekMinisterREMusicOther

2019-11-07

From the Sabbatical Minister - November 7, 2019

Transmogrified.

I first learned the word “transmogrified” from Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip by Bill Waterston that ran from 1985-1995.

One day, seven-year old Calvin built a transmogrifier. To us, it was just an upside-down cardboard box with a dial drawn on the side. But to Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes, it was a machine that could turn them into whatever they wished to become—eel, baboon, bug, dinosaur, tiger, toad. While everyone else still saw a little boy and his stuffed tiger, Calvin and Hobbes saw themselves transmogrified—transformed in a surprising manner

I think sometimes we forget that we can transmogrify things—especially in religious communities. Which is why I was struck when my colleague Ian Riddell wrote, “I’m in a bad mood that our principles are in a list. So I transmogrified them.”

Huh. It’s true that our UU principles appear in a numbered list. We even tend to quote them by number: Our fifth principle calls me to fight for responsible gun control legislation. I’m doing third principle work in learning about Hinduism. I’m a seventh principle guy so I invest in renewable energy.

A handy, step-by-step list. Nice. Neat. Ordered. Isolated. Each principle an individual.

But that was bugging Ian, so he devised something new. Instead of an ordered list, a wheel. No numbered principles, but rather a different pattern of organization. A surprising way to approach them.

The center—the axle—is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. It’s where we start, where everything else moves from. Then, encompassing it all, is the interdependent web of which we are all a part. The spokes are the other principles, the ways we understand ourselves in the world, the ways we act in the world because of who we are and where we are.

What does this mean? How would we approach our faith, our work, our connection to other human beings, our sense of the divine, if we were willing to transmogrify how we think of them?

Let’s start with the spoke calling for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. Alone, it sounds pretty good; it’s the cornerstone of every social justice action we take, both within and outside Unitarian Universalism.

There’s something missing, however.

Unitarian Universalists are good at questioning things, but we can forget to examine what’s underneath our own principles. Often we might ask What?—What do they mean? or How?—How do we affirm and promote them? But rarely do we ask Why?—Why are they important for us to affirm and promote?

But when we change how we see them, we suddenly have a way to question the why of our principles, to interrogate the deeper meanings, to see the connection between the individual and the world.

Why is justice, equity, and compassion so important? Because if I as an individual am inherently worthy of dignity, then every other individual must be as well. And if we are all connected, how can I be like the pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm and say some animals are more equal than others? How can I fail to notice that the compassion I hope you’ll show me might be worth showing to everyone else?

This principle calls us to be in that state of becoming just, equitable, and compassionate. We are never JUST just. But if we remember who we are and where we come from, we are becoming just. The justice, equity, and compassion we see in the world helps us become more just—to others, yes, but also to ourselves.

It reminds me of what my colleague David Bumbaugh wrote: “In this interconnected existence the well-being of one cannot be separated from the well-being of the whole…. We all spring from the same source and all journey to the same ultimate destiny.” In other words, y’all can’t grow into harmony with the Divine without me, nor I without you, nor all of us without each other.

It is this connection—from the individual to the collective and back again—that helps answer questions of why. Why do we affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations? Because it’s about me and it’s about you, neither of which can stand alone, so it becomes about us. As theologian Frederick Buechner famously said, “It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.”

The question of why can apply to any of our principles. Why do we affirm and promote this? Why, of course, being the question this wheel seems to ask of us over and over. And over and over we see the need both for affirmation of the individual and for commitment to all of our complicated relationships—including those that reach beyond the human realm.

Each principle connects the self to the interdependent web and back again, in areas of truth, justice, community, connection, process, growth, and compassion—leading us from the familiar form that asks what, to the transmogrified form, which inquires why.

Once you see it, it can’t be unseen. Now we can’t think of the principles without thinking about the wheel and the spokes and the interconnectedness. We have transformed our way of thinking about it. We’ve transmogrified our principles, our ethics, and our faith.

And maybe that’s the real message. Not that we become something new overnight, but that we—and our world and how we act in it—are always in process, always rolling forward on this wheel which carries us to new lands, but always brings the essentials with us as we go: You matter. You are not alone.

2019-11-05

Music: Sun Nov 10


Outward projections of compassionate love are embodied in this morning’s musical selections. Whether in the form of an African-American Spiritual or a Lutheran hymn, music holds forth the potential for spiritual healing and inner strengthening on every level, from the most intimate to the universal. The work of the “3 B’s” is highlighted first in two movements from Beethoven’s twelfth Piano Sonata. The third movement is a funeral march, a sort of public expression of grief for some unnamed fallen hero, The fourth movement seems to represent regeneration, in its flowing optimism and high spirits. Johann Sebastian Bach, who worked for so many years as Cantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, is represented in Ferruccio Busoni’s transcription of his reworking of “Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (I Call on Thee, Lord Jesus Christ) from the composer’s Cantata for the fourth Sunday after Trinity. The original text beseeches God to “not let me despair” and “to live for You, to be of use to my neighbor, and to keep Your word faithfully.” Finally, Johannes Brahms makes an appearance in one of his final compositions, a tender Intermezzo prefaced by the words of the old Scottish ballad, Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament:  “Balow, my babe, lie still and sleep! It grieves me sore to see thee weep.”
Across the Atlantic, the traditional Spiritual “Deep River” gave comfort and hope to many an oppressed people. It is heard today in the piano arrangement by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Read on for programming details.
Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Piano Sonata No. 12 in Ab Major, Op. 26
                        III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un eroe
                        IV. Allegro
                                                Ludwig van Beethoven

Prelude:
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
                                    J. S. Bach, transcribed by Ferruccio Busoni

Offertory:
Intermezzo in Eb Major, Op. 117, No. 1
                                                Johannes Brahms

Interlude:
“Deep River”
                                                Traditional African-American, arr. by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor



This Week in Religious Education: November 8-14, 2019

Hello Families and CUUC Community!

I will be in Baltimore November 6-10 for the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference. Given my background in conflict transformation, I serve as a Good Officer for Continental LREDA and will attend annual training.  I am co-convener of the LREDA Small program which will offer resources for grounding our programs in affirmation and inclusion. In addition, I will be a small group facilitator for white caucus work as we continue advancing our own learning and skills around dismantling white supremacy culture and systems, and I will attend related conference programming. As described on the LREDA website, "we will explore a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Suffering and learn to better understand and embrace our Universalist Theology of Wholeness. The conference will balance going deep into these theologies while also providing concrete tools and skills for religious professionals to use when we encounter suffering and work for collective liberation." I look forward to sharing learning and resources with you. 

CLASS NEWSLETTERS
Each class receives their own weekly newsletter. You can read each of the newsletters here:
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10th
We begin every Sunday in the sanctuary. This Sunday, we will sing children and youth out for Special Sunday activities.  RE classes and Youth Group do not meet. Special Sundays for children this year will have the theme of music as spiritual practice. This Sunday, PreK-7th grade children are exploring how music makes us feel and how we can use music to lift us up when we need a boost, to relax us when we are feeling anxious, and to remember special times in our lives. We will play musical instruments and act out parts to a story. Lyra Harada is leading. Christine Haran and Janice Silverberg are assisting. 

Youth will work in two of the triangle gardens between class hallways to prepare them for planting. Kids should wear seasonally appropriate work clothes (jeans and work shirts). Tools from home are not needed, though, garden snippers that might come in handy. Youth will be working with Steve Miller and Tim Lynch. 

6th-7th GRADE HINDUISM TRIP
The 6th-7th grade World Religions and Neighboring Faiths class visited the Hindu Temple in Queens last Sunday. We enjoyed a tour from one of their staff and learned more about Hinduism, attended a worship service and received a special blessing from one of the priests, then had lunch in the canteen. It was a wonderful way to end the Hinduism module. 

CHRISTMAS EVE OPPORTUNITY
Rev. Kimberley is planning a beautiful Christmas Eve service that will include many voices. We invite children and youth to participate by reading short passages during the service. Contact Tracy to volunteer.

FAITH FRIDAY DATE CHANGES
Due to scheduling considerations heading into the end of the calendar year, the previously scheduled November 15th programs will instead be Friday, November 22nd.  The December 20th programs are moved to Friday, December 13th.

The November On The Journey packet includes a page for families and conversations across the generations. The theme this month is Compassion. Click here

IN THE COMING WEEKS
  • Sat Nov 16 - CUUC Service Auction. RSVP for childcare by November 10th. Contact Chris Kortlandt.
  • Sun Nov 17 – Begin in worship then PreK-8th graders leave for RE classes. K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) begins. 10th-12th Youth Group is attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance worship service. 
  • *Fri Nov 22 (changed from Nov 15) - Faith Friday: Rev. Kimberley's class, Habits of the Heart; Journey Groups for adults and children; 8th-12th Youth Group. Click here for the November packet.
  • Sun Nov 24 – Whole Congregation Worship Sunday: Thanksgiving. No RE classes or Youth Group. Stone Soup community meal offered by the 8th-9th grade Coming of Age families and lunchtime discussion groups led by Rev. Kimberley and Tracy. 
  • Sun Dec 1 - Begin in worship then leave for Deck the Halls festivities. No RE classes or Youth Group. 
  • Save the Date: Sat Dec 15 - Gingerbread House Decorating at the Rockland UU congregation in Pomona, NY (click here for the flyer)
I look forward to seeing you!
in fellowship, Tracy

2019-10-31

This Week in Religious Education: October 31-November 7, 2019

Hello Families and CUUC Community!

The November On The Journey includes a page for families and conversations across the generations. There are prompts for conversations over dinner or in the car, Ted Talks and films to watch together, stories, games, music and more. The theme this month is Compassion. Click here for the packet

CLASS NEWSLETTERS
Each class receives their own weekly newsletter. You can read all of the newsletters here:

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Last Sunday was so fun and what a great turn out! We loved seeing all the creative Halloween costumes. Adam played Graceful Ghost Rag by William Bolcom during the children's recessional. The Youth Group put on one heck of a Halloween party decorating the hallway and setting up games in all four rooms. They played musical chairs and Halloween Twister, made masks and decorated pumpkins, opened treat cups, and identified all sorts of slimy, sticky, icky things while blindfolded. And, several adults handed out goodies to our Trick-or-Treaters. Thanks so much to everyone who made it such a fun morning! Scroll down for photos.



FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1st
8th-12th Grade Youth Group meets 6:30-8:30pm in the youth group room with Jason Stoff and Cyndi & Daniel Tillman for film and discussion. 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd
Join us for Day in Place. We start at sunrise by lighting the spirit fire at the fire circle on our grounds. During the day, we walk the trails around the CUUC property, clean up the trails, springs and streams, removing invasive plants and picking up wood. We need many hands and all ages can help! Contact Terri Kung or Bice Wilson for more information. 
Children's Area in the Sanctuary


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3rd
Daylight saving time ends this Sunday at 2am so remember to "fall back"!  Then join us for whole congregation worship. Our Music Director, Adam Kent, invites children and youth to find a nook under the piano where they can enjoy the centering music he plays before worship, 10:00-10:10am.

During worship, a children's area is available which offers quiet activities as children experience the words, music and rituals of our faith. There will also be a special children's order of service to help them follow along, play worship bingo and other activities. 

RE classes and youth group do not meet. 
The 6th-7th grade Neighboring Faiths & World Religions class is visiting the Hindu Temple in Queens. Families should reply to my e-mail so we can coordinate transportation. We will leave the CUUC from the middle parking lot (bottom of the stairs) at 9:20am for a tour before services. Following services, we will enjoy lunch in the canteen and visit the gift shop. 

The afternoon Healthy Youth Relationships Retreat is canceled. 

AWAY FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
I will be in Baltimore November 6-10 for the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) Fall Conference. Given my background in conflict transformation, I serve as a Good Officer for Continental LREDA and will attend annual training.  I am co-convener of the LREDA Small program which will offer resources for grounding our programs in affirmation and inclusion. In addition, I will be a small group facilitator for white caucus work as we continue advancing our own learning and skills around dismantling white supremacy culture and systems, and I will attend related conference programming. As described on the LREDA website, "we will explore a Unitarian Universalist Theology of Suffering and learn to better understand and embrace our Universalist Theology of Wholeness. The conference will balance going deep into these theologies while also providing concrete tools and skills for religious professionals to use when we encounter suffering and work for collective liberation." I look forward to sharing learning and resources with you. 

FAITH FRIDAY DATE CHANGES
Due to scheduling considerations heading into the end of the calendar year, the previously scheduled November 15th programs will instead be Friday, November 22nd.  The December 20th programs are moved to Friday, December 13th.

COMING UP
  • Sun Nov 10 - Multiage Activities. Children enjoy a morning of music with Lyra. Youth clean up two of the triangle gardens during RE with Steve Miller.  Classes and youth group do not meet. 
  • Sun Nov 17 – K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) begins. Ray Messing visits Children's Worship to make posters with the children for toiletries donations.  Neighboring Faiths and Coming of Age classes meet. Youth attending the Transgender Day of Remembrance worship service. *The Neighboring Faiths class needs an assistant; sign up here (no need to log in, just enter your name and e-mail on a date then click "Submit & Sign Up.") 
  • Fri Nov 22 - Faith Friday Adult & Children's Journey Groups, Habits of the Heart class, 8th-12th Youth Group Social.
  • Sun Nov 24 – Whole Congregation Worship. RE classes and Youth Group do not meet. COA families host the Stone Soup Community Meal where Rev. Kimberley and I will lead lunchtime discussion groups. 
  • Sun Dec 1 - Deck the Halls! We are bringing holiday cheer to CUUC. Join us to make decorations.
  • Sat Dec 15 - Save the Date: Gingerbread House Decorating at the Rockland UU congregation in Pomona, NY (click here for the flyer)
  • Tues Dec 24 - We are looking for a couple children and youth to be readers for the Christmas Eve service. Contact me if you're interested. 
I look forward to seeing you!

in fellowship, Tracy
CUUCWPTracy@gmail.com

Scenes from the Halloween party:















From the Sabbatical Minister - October 31, 2019


Be Kind


How many of you grew up watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood – or showed it to your children as they were growing up? I was born at just the right time – I was 4 when it first appeared on our local PBS station – the perfect age for this unique show. And paired with Sesame Street, which came out at the same time, this little white girl from a rural community in Rensselaer County was suddenly learning about towns and cities, counting and spelling (in both English and Spanish), what other people looked like, what it meant to use our imagination, and what it meant to be a neighbor. And I recently thought about how important it was to hear these messages in the wake of the King assassination, in the midst of the Vietnam war, in the restlessness of the country – something I as a small child knew nothing about except that things seemed wrong and some of my schoolmates’ dads never came home.

Fred Rogers, this gentle Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh, was never a parish minister, but rather went into the community – the community of television, and children – an alien land, to be sure. The grounding of his faith and his local congregation allowed him to flourish as he brought these incredible messages of care, support, openness, intimate justice, and kindness to not just children but their parents.

I don’t think it’s a mistake that Mr. Rogers is resonating so deeply right now. The lessons he was teaching us – and is still teaching us – help ground us when we feel utterly ungrounded. They are there for the taking – these things that Unitarian minister Robert Fulghum also reminded us that we learned in Kindergarten – how to be kind and how to share, and how to forgive, and how to take care of ourselves and each other.  

And we need these reminders. Too often, I fear, we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle – and lately, existential anxiety – that we forget to pay attention to others. We forget that while we are the lead characters in our own stories, we are but bit players and maybe just background extras in the stories of other people. So many times, it seems, other people try to upstage us with their ideas, opinions, and criticisms – or worse, we upstage them as if we’re more important or valued. It’s no wonder Mr. Rogers Neighborhood continues to be so important. The ministry of Rogers focused on teaching children how to live out the assertion that we have inherent worth and dignity just by being human, and how we are all worth care and consideration. Mr. Rogers’s ministry continues to teach us that if we have any hope of changing the world, it starts with us.

It matters how we treat each other, how we support each other, how we hold one another in care, how we hold one another to our responsibilities to others and the earth. Our Universalism teaches us that hell is on earth and we are here to love the Hell out of the World – we do that by how we love, how we act, how we live. If we have any chance of building this world from love, or we must ground ourselves as people of compassion, openness, and a willingness to be genuinely kind.

This month we’ll be exploring the topic of compassion, which I think begins with a focus on kindness. In the TV show The Good Place, we hear over and over the question “what do we owe to each other?” and the answer to me is kindness. Grace. Compassion.


We can all be kind. We are called to be kind. And in our individual acts of kindness, we make a difference. As Unitarian minister Edward Everett Hale wrote, “I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Kindness is how we live into covenant with one another. Kindness is how we change the world, one compassionate act at a time.






2019-10-29

Music: Sun Nov 3


Catalan composer Federico Mompou’s first published work, a suite of pieces for solo piano entitled Impresiones íntimas (Intimate Impressions), provide the perfect musical embodiment of loving compassion envisioned in this morning’s service. Gitano (Gypsy) was inspired by an incident when the car the young composer was driving accidentally knocked over a gypsy. According to Mompou, the piece reflected the gypsy’s reaction of good-humored forgiveness and grace. Joaquín Turina was a native of Seville, and his three Danzas fantásticas highlight dance rhythms from different regions of Spain. Exalatación is lovingly dedicated to the composer’s wife with the following lines from the novel La orgía  (Yes, it means what you think.) by  José Mas:

It seemed as though the figures in that incomparable picture were moving inside the calyx of a flower.

The CUUC Choir is also on hand with more loving expressions by Jason Shelton and Ruth Elaine Schram. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Exalatación from Danzas fantásticas, Op. 22
                                    Joaquín Turina
From Impresiones íntimas
Pájaro triste (Sad Bird)
Cuna (Cradle)
                                    Federico Mompou

Prelude: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
“You Are Loved”       
 Jason Shelton and Gretchen Haley

Offertory: Gitano from Impresiones íntimas
                                                      Mompou
Anthem:
“No Greater Gift”     
Ruth Elaine Schram   
Interlude:
Secreto           
                                                      Mompou

2019-10-24

This Week in Religious Education: October 21-27, 2019

Hello CUUC Families and RE Volunteers!

I am experimenting with different ways to communicate with families. This month, each class and the youth group will receive a specialized newsletter via e-mail. Others can read the October 24th newsletters by clicking below:
REGISTER ASAP
November 3rd, we are hosting a Healthy Youth Relationships Retreat for 6th-8th grade, 9th-12th grade, and parents/supportive adults with Center Lane.  This is a wonderful opportunity for local UU families and Westchester LGBTQ families.  The event runs the risk of being canceled for low enrollment. Signup now. Click here for the flyer.  Register here.

THIS SUNDAY: OCTOBER 27TH
Classes and youth group meet this Sunday.  We begin together at 10:00am in the sanctuary. After the Time for All Ages story, we leave for classes which meet until 11:30am. Children 3rd grade and younger must be picked up at 11:30am. Those 4th grade and older will be dismissed to head to community lunch and the Halloween party.
  • Childcare, ABC UU Values (room 32): Diane Keller and Hans Elsevier.
  • PreK-1st Grade, World of New Friends (room 33): This week, the children meet Maria and learn about Christianity. She will share about her favorite Christian holiday. Can you guess which one it will be? Laura Goodspeed is leading and Rhonda Miller is the class assistant. 
  • 2nd-3rd Grade, Passport to Spirituality (*room 24):  The class continues learning about Judaism with guest speaker, Audra Russell, who will talk about her experience growing up Jewish and share some of her favorite traditions. Norm Handelman and Deb Margoluis are assisting. [*Beginning November 3rd, this class will meet in room 44.]
  • 4th-5th Grade, Bibleodeon (room 21): Janice Silverberg is leading class about the story of Abraham and his significance in three religions. Alex Zisson is the assistant. 
  • 6th-7th Grade, Neighboring Faiths (room 41): The class continues learning about Hinduism. Susheela Raghavan is the guest speaker, sharing her experience growing up Hindu and some of her favorite traditions. Gail Johnston is the assistant. 
  • 8th-9th Grade, Coming of Age (room 11):  This Sunday, class meets in room 43. Kate Colson continues discussion with the youth about UU beliefs and our connection to the world. Charles McNally is the assistant. 
  • 10th-12th Grade, Youth Group (room 14): Youth will go straight to the red hallway at 10:00am instead of starting in worship this Sunday so they have plenty of time to set up the Halloween party. Cyndi & Danial Tillman and Imelda Cruz Avellan will be with the youth. 
Everyone is invited to wear costumes!  The youth group has planned a fun Halloween party! They are decorating the red hallway and each room will have Halloween games for children and youth: decorate pumpkins, musical chairs, mystery slime, and more!  There will be prizes.  Children and youth can stop by the community lunch then head up to the Halloween party.

Trick-or-Treat at CUUC!  Children and youth are invited to fill goodie bags around CUUC after worship this Sunday.  Look for adults wearing a colorful hat and give them your best "Trick-or-Treat!"

I have not received registration forms from all families but do know we have some with nut allergies so treats will not have nuts.  If there are other allergies we need to know about, do let me know.  The registration form is available next to the Welcome Table at CUUC and online here.

While children are at the Halloween party, K-1st grade parents will meet for Elementary Our Whole Lives orientation with David Bowen. Parent orientation is mandatory for any child participating. The class is open to friends. Please share this trifold flyer.

Following the communal meal, Halloween party and K-1st grade OWL orientation, please stay for the opening concert of this year’s Music at CUUC series in the sanctuary, featuring Music Director Adam Kent. This family-friendly event will be prefaced by short music appreciation skits with our own Kim and Christian Force and Elias VanDette.

This is the last Sunday to donate winter outerwear for Hearts & Homes for Refugees.  Gently used adult and children's winter coats; waterproof boots (especially boys'); boys' and men's hats, gloves, scarves.  New men's and children's socks, fleece throws and small blankets. Bring items to CUUC this Sunday. Contact Karen Leahy with questions.

COMING UP

  • Watch for the new Family page in the monthly Journey Group packet. The theme this month is compassion.
  • Sun Nov 3 – Healthy Youth Relationships Retreat for 6th-8th grade, 9th-12th grade, and parents/supportive adults (click here for the flyer; register here).
  • Sun Nov 10 - 8th-12th grade youth will clean up two of the triangle gardens during RE.
  • Sun Nov 17 – K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) begins.
  • Sun Nov 24 – Stone Soup Community Meal by COA families & lunchtime discussion groups.
  • Sat Dec 15 - Save the Date: Ginger Bread House Decorating at the Rockland UU congregation in Pamona, NY (click here for the flyer).

Monthly:

  • 1st Friday Youth Group & Journey Group Facilitators
  • 1st Saturday Journey Group Facilitators
  • 2nd Sunday Journey Groups
  • 3rd Friday Adult Journey Group, Youth Group, Children's Journey Group
  • 2nd & 4th Sunday morning Youth Group (with some scheduling exceptions)

WELCOMING CHILDREN IN WORSHIP
Among the priorities outlined for me this year is building connection between the RE and sanctuary sides of the building. We have been inviting all adults in the congregation to serve as a classroom assistant in Sunday morning RE classes (you can sign up here). Youth Group is meeting on 3rd Fridays with other Faith Friday programs. And we are exploring with ways to make worship services more welcoming to children, especially whole congregation worship services when we are together the full hour.

In Children's Worship, Lyra and I are previewing themes and music that will be included in upcoming whole congregation worship Sundays so the children will have a deeper understanding about worship, making the sanctuary and service feel more familiar. In addition:
  • The PowerPoint slides now include clip art with pictures to help young children identify which part of worship we are in (thank you, Kim!); 
  • There will be a special paper order of service for children for each whole congregation worship Sunday that includes those clip art images plus puzzles on the back (click here to see an example); 
  • There is a new children's area in the sanctuary where children can enjoy quiet activities while experiencing the words, music and rituals of our faith (our thanks to the Force family who donated the adorable bookshelf!). 
New Children's Area in the Sanctuary
I look forward to seeing you! Tracy

From the Sabbatical Minister - October 24, 2019

In Memory

One of the English language’s most famous poems about loss is “Remember” by Christina Rosetti; the sonnet’s final couplet reads


“Better by far you should forget and smile 
Than that you should remember and be sad.”


I for one would rather forget that my father died suddenly at age 60 and remember that try as he might, he could not stifle the explosive guffaws when watching the movie Airplane! I would rather forget that my mother’s last hours were spent suffering in a hospital and remember that she would sometimes pick me up from school and stop by the video store so we could indulge ourselves in a classic movie before Dad got home from work.

Many of us have losses that are hard to bear – parents, children, partners, beloved friends and family – people who meant so much to us. On Sunday, we will share some of those memories as we create our ribbons of remembrance – a ritual borne of our need to memorialize.

It seems to be a human trait, to memorialize. We go to gravesites, we build makeshift altars, and on a larger scale, we build memorials – often of granite and marble – to mark the moments of loss. Are we obsessed with loss?  I don’t think so… I think exactly the opposite is true. We remember loss because we are obsessed with life.

Of course we mourn loss. When it’s the loss of a closed loved one, it cuts us in intimate ways – the death of my partner in 1998 was like losing a limb. When it’s a little more distant, like the constant barrage of mass shootings and senseless murders – it cuts into our understanding of thriving in global community and leaves an existential feeling of loss.

It’s all so difficult – these memories tied to life and death. We grapple internally with loss, with pain, with the deep well of sorrow that drowns us in cold unsettling grief; yet while much of our personal mourning is private, we publicly memorialize.

Why do we take time to ritualize it? We do, after all – we hold funerals and memorial services, and we come back time and time again to gravesides, to pray, remember, and leave mementos.
Memorializing formally, as ritualist Brigitte Sion says, creates a space where we can claim our right to grief and mourning; we can’t just ‘get over it’ – we need to make space for our memory. And when that space isn’t provided, we find ways to make it.

One of the most powerful memorials I have ever experienced is the NAMES Project. Unlike a large, permanent memorial, like the Wall or the Holocaust Museum or the striking Korean war memorial, that is planned and sanctioned and funded – this quilt, created to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS, it is organic, and surprising, and moveable. Adding to the quilt is a given, for it is also ever-changing. It begins with friends, sitting together, sewing and painting and gluing – and talking. Sharing memories, tears, and Kleenex. And then it’s added to a larger quilt, where more memories are shared as it’s attached to quilt pieces from others; there, our memories become attached to other memories. And then, it is displayed…and others have a chance to remember, to see these lives. And when it is displayed, the names are read. We hear those names – those lost to this horrible disease, those who initially were marginalized even as illness decimated an already marginalized community. I’m sorry to say I have worked on more than one quilt piece – but I am glad that I can remember, and that others can share those memories.

In memorial, the act of remembering is a physical act, that connects us with the past, that connects us with life, that alters time so that past and present can meet, even for a short while. And we find strength in the remembering. Director Anne Bogart says “As a result of a partnership with memory and the consequent journeys through the past, I feel nourished, encouraged, and energized. I feel more profoundly connected to and inspired by those who came before.”

That connection, that inspiration, helps us overcome the sharpness of loss. Right after my father died, the fact of his death was the overriding thought in my head; I thought first of my father and his death, which led me to think about what losing him meant – no more felling trees with him, no more watching him mow the lawn with his bright orange Astros cap, no more affectionate “Hey, Gracie” when I walked into a room.

But eventually, the loss wasn’t at the forefront of my mind. Eventually, it was hearing an Astros game on tv that reminded me of his cap; or watching Airplane! and recalling his all too rare laughter; or seeing a stacked cord of wood and remembering the time we took down a tree that barely made a sound as it fell, calling into question the Zen koan and eliciting my father’s patented wry smile.

And yes, we still have a habit of cooking his favorite dinner, beef roulades, on Christmas eve. We often forget why we do it now – until we sit down to dinner and remember. We connect over our memories, and reconnect as a family.

Loss is never easy, and this is why we will make space on Sunday, as we approach All Souls Day, to memorialize and remember, to honor loved ones, to honor life.


2019-10-23

Music: Sun Oct 27


This morning’s musical selections celebrate the legacy of great Unitarian composers. Among them is the Norwegian Edvard Grieg, several of whose Lyric Pieces are featured in the Centering Music, Prelude, and Interlude. “Remembrances,” the last of the composer’s essays in this form, is actually a transformation of “Arietta,” performed last week, which was the first. In fact, all the works of Grieg chosen for this morning’s service reflect the theme of retrospection. Bela Bartok, one of the early twentieth century’s most important composers, frequently mined the folk music of his native Hungary and other neighboring Eastern European countries in his music. Finally, Arthur Foote, one of the leading composers of the so-called New England School, served as organist to one of Boston’s leading Unitarian congregations for over thirty years and was the composer of several once-popular UU hymns. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Rumanian Dances
            Dance with Sticks
            Waistband Dance
            On the Spot
            Hornpipe
            Rumanian Polka
            Quick Dance
                                                            Bela Bartok
Vanished Days, Op. 57, No. 1            
                                                            Edvard Grieg

Prelude:
Remembrances, Op. 71, No. 7
                                                            Grieg

Children’s Recessional:
Graceful Ghost Rag                
                                                William Bolcom

Offertory:
Romance in F Major, Op. 15, No. 3
                                                            Arthur Foote

Interlude:
Gone, Op. 71, No. 6
                                                            Grieg

2019-10-17

From the Sabbatical Minister - October 17, 2019

O What a Piece of Work Are We!

How wondrous is the human mind and its infinite capacity, that we are able to learn and explore and think new things, that we are adaptive and adaptable, and that we can imagine not only all manner of things beyond ourselves – that is wondrous indeed.

I identify as a Universalist theist, finding myself fascinated by and informed by what I perceive as God’s love and our capacity for goodness. And part of that fascination draws me to a sense of awe about how our minds work – these minds can both ponder Mystery and build our human future.

I have these moments every now and then when I am taken completely aback by something a human has created or thought. Sometimes it’s amazement at the spectacle of skyscrapers on Fifth Avenue. Sometimes it’s awe as I video chat real-time with a colleague in England. Sometimes it’s realizing that an operation that once caused 8-inch scars and weeks in the hospital is now an outpatient procedure with a one-inch incision.

I was listening to a podcast about Charles Darwin recently and it was noted that Darwin was definitely a man of his age – like many upper class Victorians of the time, he was interested in art, nature, and science. But in 1859, Darwin made a rather simple observation that has absolutely changed how we perceive the world. That observation, of course, is evolution by natural selection. What struck me, however, was not the awesomeness of the theory that has since been proved as fact by biology, anthropology, paleontology, and other sciences. No, it was the fact that the human brain is so amazing that it can incorporate positively new ideas and actually adapt to new technologies.

In fact, our minds are so adaptive that how we learn, how we use new tools, how we process even more and more information is evidence of a mind that is constantly seeking to extend itself, to grab on to new tools it has never experienced before and merge with them. We wonder with horror at how easily people become glued to their smart phones, but it would be surprising to biologists if we didn’t – as we are, in some ways, natural-born cyborgs.

It is stunning when you think that we constantly incorporate life-shaping ideas such as evolution and heliocentrism… we take space travel as fact, not fantasy… we have spent centuries developing cars and combines and phones and lasers … we construct buildings that scrape the sky … we come up with ingenious ways to adapt to our changing climate… we know thousands more words and absorb more information in a year than we did in a lifetime just 100 years ago… and yet we are still human, in human communities, in human relationships, propagating the species and adapting to the world.

We humans, in human communities, also have room in our fabulous brains to create art and worship together, to be social and committed together. We naturally form in groups of like-minded people so that we can not only learn from one another but also strengthen our empathy and compassion, which helps us survive and helps us do the work of justice.

These brains and bodies are marvels – we celebrate them every time we say ‘hello’ or offer a seat or ask ‘how are you’ and care to know the answer. We celebrate them when we show care and kindness. We celebrate them when we share our joys and sorrows, when we share meals and hearts.

Oh what a piece of work are we, so marvelously wrought.

2019-10-16

This Week in Religious Education: October 14-20, 2019


COMMUNICATION
I am experimenting with different ways to communicate with families. This week, each class and the youth group received a specialized newsletter. You can see each newsletter by clicking below:

A SUNDAY OFF
This Sunday, October 20th, will be my first Sunday off. I will be unavailable after Friday evening's programming through Tuesday morning.

WELCOMING CHILDREN IN WORSHIP
Among the priorities outlined for me this year is building connection between the RE and sanctuary sides of the building. We have been inviting all adults in the congregation to serve as a classroom assistant in Sunday morning RE classes (you can sign up here). Youth Group is meeting on 3rd Fridays with other Faith Friday programs. And we are exploring with ways to make worship services more welcoming to children, especially whole congregation worship services when we are together the full hour.

In Children's Worship on October 6th, Lyra and I previewed themes and music that would be included in worship last Sunday so the children would have a deeper understanding about worship, making the sanctuary and service feel more familiar.

If you attended whole congregation worship last Sunday, you might have noticed a few new things:
  • The PowerPoint slides now include clip art with pictures to help young children identify which part of worship we are in (thank you, Kim!); 
  • There was a special paper order of service for the children that included those clip art images plus puzzles on the back (click here to see it); 
  • There is a new children's area in the sanctuary where children can enjoy quiet activities while experiencing the words, music and rituals of our faith (our thanks to the Force family who donated the adorable bookshelf!). 
New Children's Area in the Sanctuary

FAITH FRIDAY: OCTOBER 18th
6:15pm Pizza & Community Dinner (RSVP by noon Friday at cuucevents@gmail.com)
7:00-8:30pm Programming:
  • Children's Journey Group & Adult Journey Group: We are exploring the theme of "Awe" this month. Packets for the adult group are online here
  • 8th-12th Grade Youth Group: The group is growing! Come for an evening of fun and games, and plan the October 27th children's Halloween party. 
  • Adult RE Class: You voted and Rev. Kimberley will be offering her class, Habits of the Heart, which begins this Friday! This will be a 6 session class on 3rd Fridays.
SUNDAY: OCTOBER 20TH
Classes and youth group meet this Sunday.  We begin together at 10:00am in the sanctuary. After the Time for All Ages story, we leave for classes and children's worship where we meet until 11:30am. Children 3rd grade and younger must be picked up at 11:30am. Those 4th grade and older will be dismissed to head to coffee hour.
  • Childcare, ABC UU Values (room 32): Diane Keller and Hans Elsevier.
  • PreK-1st Grade, World of New Friends (room 33): The children are learning about Islam. Laura Sehdeva is leading and Rhonda Miller is the assistant. 
  • 2nd-3rd Grade, Passport to Spirituality (room 24): The children are learning about Judaism. Audra Russell is the guest speaker, sharing about her background in Judaism. Norm Handleman is the assistant.  [This class will be moving to room 43 in the next week or two. Stay tuned for more information.]
  • 4th-5th Grade, Bibleodeon (room 21): The class is discussing good and evil using the story of Cain and Abel. Suzanne Cacchione and Christine Major are leading. 
  • 6th-7th Grade, Neighboring Faiths (room 41): The class begins their module about Hinduism. Gail Johnston is leading and Tessa Forte is the assistant. **See the note below about the Sunday evening class visit to Woodlands Temple. 
  • 8th-9th Grade, Coming of Age (room 11): The youth are exploring images of the Divine from many traditions and discussing how those images might reveal something about the people who believe in them. They will also explore the nature of good and evil, whether those characteristics are innate or learned. Alex Sehdeva is leading discussion about what our UU values teach us about good and evil. Christine Haran is the assistant. 
  • 10th-12th Grade, Youth Group (room 14): Youth meet with Cyndi & Daniel Tilman to begin planning the children's Halloween party. 
Following worship, help Arturo celebrate his 18th birthday with a special party in the Fellowship Hall.  

Interfaith Learning Opportunity: CUUC is part of a local interfaith Faith and Justice collaboration. Our families are invited to Simkhat Torah at Woodlands Temple this Sunday, October 20th. We especially encourage 2nd-3rd & 6th-7th grade class families to attend. Woodlands Temple, 50 Worthington Road, White Plains, NY 10607.  6:40pm: Rabbi Billie & Rabbi Mara explain the purpose of Simkhat Torah. 7:00-8:30pm: Celebration!  RSVP sbrockus@gmail.com.

COMING UP
Sun Oct 20 & 27 - Hearts & Homes for Refugees is collecting outerwear for their winter clothing drive.  Gently used adult and children's winter coats; waterproof boots (especially boys'); boys' and men's hats, gloves, scarves.  New men's and children's socks, fleece throws and small blankets. Bring items to CUUC October 20th and 27th. Contact Karen Leahy with questions.
Sun Oct 27 – The youth group will host their annual children's Halloween party after worship! Games, music, treats, general spookiness... it should be fun!  Children are invited to wear their Halloween costumes for maximum fun.
Sun Oct 27 - While children are at the Halloween party, K-1st grade parents will meet for Elementary Our Whole Lives orientation with David Bowen. Parent orientation is mandatory for any child participating. The class is open to friends. Please share this trifold flyer.
Sun Oct 27 - Following our communal meal, please consider staying for the opening concert of this year’s Music at CUUC series in the Sanctuary, featuring Music Director Adam Kent. This family-friendly event will be prefaced by short music appreciation skits with our own Kim and Christian Force and Elias VanDette.
Sun Nov 3 – Healthy Youth Relationships Retreat for 6th-8th grade, 9th-12th grade, and parents/supportive adults (click here for the flyer; register here)
Sun Nov 17 – K-1st Our Whole Lives (OWL) Begins
Sun Nov 24 – COA Families offering the Stone Soup Community Meal & Lunchtime Discussion Groups

Monthly:
1st Friday Youth Group & Journey Group Facilitators
1st Saturday Journey Group Facilitators
2nd Sunday Journey Groups
3rd Friday Adult Journey Group, Youth Group, Children's Journey Group
2nd & 4th Sunday morning Youth Group (with some scheduling exceptions)

I look forward to seeing you! Tracy


Music: Sun Oct 20


This morning’s musical selections are all taken from the Lyric Pieces of Unitarian composer Edvard Grieg. These charming miniatures are frequently reflective of the composer’s Norwegian heritage and his immersion in the country’s folklore. Read on for programming details.

Centering Music:
Gade, Op. 57, No. 2
Berceuse, Op. 37, No. 1
Homeward, Op. 62, No. 6
                                                Edvard Grieg

Opening Music:
Arietta, Op. 12, No. 1
                                                            Grieg

Offertory:
Notturno, Op. 54, No. 4
                                                            Grieg

Interlude:
Peasants’ March, Op. 54, No. 2
                                                            Grieg

Time for All Ages: